PANAJI: The Ketevan Sacred Music Festival which was held virtually this year, awed thousands of worldwide viewers who tuned in to show their ongoing support and enthusiasm, according to a press release.
“We were used to hosting artists from different parts of the country and world plus managing their logistics, rehearsals, and setting up for the concerts all within a week. There was a lot of adrenaline rush during those days. This time because of the pandemic, we opted to go online and the full experience of the festival was beautiful yet different. We could connect and interact with the artists better and much earlier given that we had to start production planning last year. We were able to coordinate and rehearse with them in advance and had the liberty pre plan our shoots as well. On the whole, we had a really unique experience,” co-founder and artistic director of the festival, Dr. Santiago Lusardi Girelli is quoted as saying in the press communique.
The festival kicked off with an enthralling performance by Sakhioba Ensemble of their traditional Georgian Sacred Chant. Then came a poetic piece titled ‘The Divine in Nature’ by the Harvard Nightingale Vocal Ensemble which premiered at the festival followed by, the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra by Serme Khen Rinpoche Geshe Tashi Tsering, Abbott of Sera Mey Monastery and the Dalai Lama Chair at Goa University. The surreal ‘The Big Ocean Cantata’ featured the Goa University Choir, Kushmita Biswakarma & Santiago Lusardi Girelli. A short documentary of the Drepung Monastery Monks gave the audience a rare insight into their lives: the rituals, prayers etc. Lastly, the day came to an end with an unusual pipe organ performance at Mossley Hil Church, Liverpool, UK by Dr. Colin Porter.
Day two witnessed Saskia Rao, a disciple of Hariprasad Chaurasia, who gave a stunning performance that witnessed confluences of a western cello with some characteristics of the sitar. Following this was a very interesting talk: thoughts and ideas on sacred music by Maestro Michael Alfera of LA Choral Lab Vocal Ensemble, Los Angeles, US. Japanese monk Yogetsu Akasaka introduced a funky electronic beat into traditional chanting. Next up were beautiful performances by the noted Pandit Ritwik Sanyal & Lux Vocalis Ensemble and lastly, the Dhrupad Chant showcased life dedicated to Dhrupad.
The last day of the festival began with Cardo Roxo Emsemble from Portugal with its amazing backdrop followed by the soulful Georgian Aghsavali Choir. Next up was a talk on the need for merging singing and coexistence experiences, in all cultures and at all ages by Dr Craig Cook (Principal of Woodstock).
Then Goa’s very own Ektaal Children ́s Choir gave an enthralling performance after which the Woodstock School Choir (MUSS) sang a lovely and apt song on peace which was followed by Raymond Hawkins experiencing the sacredness of choral singing. Then we heard an insightful introduction about Charles de Foucauld and the Universal Brotherhood by Fr. Eduardo Mangiarotti (Buenos Aires, Argentina). The festival came to a dramatic finish with the world premiere of the Vox Clamantis Cantata featuring Maestro Santiago Lusardi Girelli, VRPP, Western Music Chair, Goa University, the Goa University Choir & the Festival Ensemble.
In future, the Ketevan Festival plans to do a mixed bag of events – live plus online concerts so that people can enjoy it from different corners of the world in a more intimate setting.